Friday, February 09, 2024

ChatGPT4 on Mental Fight

The continuous pursuit of material rewards and consumer goods, encouraged by capitalist economies, can lead to a form of addiction where people's happiness and sense of fulfillment become overly dependent on external factors rather than internal values or personal growth.

  1. The Nature of Consumerist Addiction: In capitalist societies, consumerism often operates on the principle of creating and fulfilling desires for products and experiences. This system can lead to an endless cycle of wanting, acquiring, and then seeking more, resembling an addiction. This "addiction" can distract individuals from more meaningful pursuits and connections, leading to a sense of emptiness or dissatisfaction despite material abundance.

  2. The Role of Mental Fight: Engaging in "mental fight" in this context means actively questioning and resisting the values and assumptions that underpin consumerist culture. It involves a critical examination of one's desires, motivations, and the societal norms that shape them. This mental struggle can help individuals break free from the cycle of consumerist addiction by fostering a greater sense of self-awareness, autonomy, and purpose beyond material acquisition.

  3. Alternative Values and Fulfillment: The "cure" suggested through mental fight involves finding fulfillment in non-materialistic values such as relationships, community, personal growth, creativity, and contributions to societal wellbeing. By focusing on these aspects, individuals can develop a sense of contentment and purpose that is not reliant on constant consumption. Complement to "No Mind": "Mental fight" against consumerism involves recognizing and resisting the conditioning that leads to materialistic desires and the constant pursuit of rewards. This active approaches can be complemented by "No mind"--the Zen-Buddhist state of mental clarity, spontaneity, and being free from attachment to thoughts--by helping individuals detach from conditioned desires and the thoughts that fuel them, thereby reducing their power. Awareness and Presence: Engaging in practices that lead to "no mind" enhances awareness and presence, allowing individuals to observe their thoughts and impulses related to consumerism without acting on them. This mindful observation is a form of mental fight that weakens the habitual patterns of seeking fulfillment through consumption.

  4. Practical Integration: By blending the active engagement of "mental fight" with the passive acceptance and clarity of "no mind," individuals can navigate the complexities of modern consumer culture with greater freedom and resilience. The synergy between "mental fight" and "no mind" offers a comprehensive approach to addressing the addiction to rewards in capitalist consumerism, enabling individuals to live more authentic, fulfilling lives.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

ChatGPT essay on Mathematics Education

The 19th and 20th centuries in the realm of mathematics were marked by significant transformations, with a noticeable shift in focus from visualization techniques to the rise of abstract algebra and analysis. This change profoundly influenced mathematics education, especially in the United States, with long-term implications.

Educational Shifts in Post-Sputnik America

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's Sputnik launch in 1957, the United States initiated a major overhaul of its science and mathematics education. The aim was to rapidly develop a workforce capable of competing in the fields of science and engineering. This led to a notable de-emphasis on classical subjects like arithmetic and geometry in favor of algebra. The Common Core curriculum, adopted later, further entrenched this trend by integrating algebraic methods into the teaching of geometry. This "algebratization" of geometry was a marked deviation from the traditional approach, where geometry was taught as a distinct and intuitive discipline, separate from the abstract symbolism of algebra.

The Role of Visual Thinking in Mathematics

The impact of this educational shift becomes even more pronounced when considering the contributions of mathematicians like Henri Poincaré and Benoit Mandelbrot. These mathematicians demonstrated the profound power of visual thinking in understanding complex systems. Poincaré's work in the field of dynamical systems and Mandelbrot's exploration of fractal geometry are prime examples of how visualization can lead to groundbreaking insights in mathematics. Their work underscores the importance of visual approaches in comprehending and solving complex mathematical problems, highlighting a dimension of mathematical thought that goes beyond symbolic algebraic manipulation.

Temple Grandin's Perspective on Specialist Thinkers

Temple Grandin's insights into different types of thinkers – visual, pattern, and word-fact – further illuminate the implications of the shift in mathematical education. Grandin points out that visual thinkers, who excel in understanding spatial relationships and can easily navigate subjects like geometry and trigonometry, often struggle with the abstract nature of algebra. This suggests that the algebra-focused curriculum might inadvertently sideline students who have a natural aptitude for visual thinking.

The Disadvantage for Visual Thinkers

The current educational trend, with its strong emphasis on algebra, places visual thinkers at a distinct disadvantage. These students may find themselves lagging in mathematics, not due to a lack of ability, but due to a teaching approach that does not align with their cognitive strengths. This misalignment can lead to decreased confidence and interest in mathematics, thereby exacerbating the educational gap.

Moreover, the competition for scholarships and advanced educational opportunities often favors those proficient in algebra, putting visual thinkers who might excel in areas like geometry or in understanding complex systems (as exemplified by Poincaré and Mandelbrot) at a competitive disadvantage.

Advocating for a Balanced Approach

Recognizing the contributions of mathematicians like Poincaré and Mandelbrot, and taking into account Grandin's classification of thinkers, it becomes clear that a balanced approach to mathematics education is essential. Such an approach would not only honor the diverse cognitive styles of students but also reflect the rich and varied nature of mathematics itself. A curriculum that recognizes and nurtures students' different cognitive specialties is a necessary part of enriching their interest and appreciation of mathematics as a multifaceted and interconnected discipline.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Two explanations of Nietzsche's Concept of Eternal Recurrence

“Those who criticize without creating are the plague of philosophy.” - Gilles Deleuze

1.  A transcript of Michael Sugrue's Youtube video about Nietzsche:

Nietzsche, unlike the other intellectuals in the late 19th century, sees the implications of the collapse of religion. Rather than thinking that we could be sustained by naive, Darwinian belief in progress, he says “there's no progress to have.” Whatever we do, happens next – it doesn't mean that it's progressing. It's not going in any direction – it's all random. “The world is in all eternity Chaos. All hymns have sung to the teeming Chaos.”

Chaos in the Greek tradition is compared to Cosmos.  A Cosmos is an ordered universe; Chaos is a disordered universe. Cosmos is knowable; Chaos is not.

Once we've killed God, we've also destroyed knowledge, which means science is dead, philosophy is dead – our whole intellectual tradition has suffered an earthquake-like disaster. Nietzsche asks, what do we do now? How would we be big enough? How will we be strong enough to create a culture? To create a an intellectual life, when everything that we depended on, is now gone for good? ...

...Nietzsche’s madman is the one who announces that “God is dead.” He goes to the churches and he sees the people are going through the motions, but don't believe this anymore.
He talks to other people who have given up on religion, and the madman says “don't you realize how catastrophic this is?” “That everything is now tumbling down around our heads?”
He describes it as falling in every direction at once – imagine being in inter-stellar space – no up, no down, no front, no back. Where are we? What are we? All of this is up for grabs now. That's what the death of God is.

Since the Christian God is now dead, he's not kidding when he thinks "I can replace that."  If Christianity was a human construction, and if we need something to fill in the gap, Nietzsche is willing to step up and give us his best shot.
This is what he does when he says “Dionysus versus the Crucified.” The Greek god Dionysus – the god of wine, the god of drama, the god of intoxication, the god of sexual desire, the god of irrationality – is Nietzsche’s Nom de Plume. It's the mask that he uses to say “I have a new religion for you.” “I'm going to revive the religion of Dionysus,” because the status that Rationality previously held, can no longer hold. He thinks Christianity is dead, so he's trying to offer us some way out of this Labyrinth.

Hegel said that the highest achievements of human beings are three things: art, religion, and philosophy. Nietzsche believes that he has shown quite conclusively that religion and philosophy are gone. They're dead, and that leaves only art. Nietzsche is going to create a philosophy of culture which says art is the only way out of the Labyrinth; we must construct life-giving illusions that will connect art to religion–art to our longing for coherence–and which will prevent us from being destroyed and torn apart by the vacuum of meaning that emerges after God dies. 
Christians used to call someone the Antichrist as a kind of ultimate insult. Nietzsche says “No, we really need an Antichrist now!” and “I'm the only one that could do it, because I'm the only one who really understands how deep our problems run.” 
So Dionysus is going to be a religious and artistic alternative to both science and to Christianity. For example, he says look in the past. Judges who believed in witchcraft accused ‘witches’ and condemned them to death on that basis. Nietzsche says, “Now, not only is there no witchcraft, but now there's no Justice either." The guilt that both the witches and the their accusers thought they were bearing doesn't exist, because there aren't any moral or immoral boundaries anymore. Witchcraft and the belief in moral guilt are equally superstitious.
The only way to renew our culture is to find some solace in art. It's art that is going to take up the redemptive qualities that religion used to offer us. Nietzsche says that he is an artist, and that's the only way the philosophy can be done now–artistically.

Instead of writing long treatises like Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Nietzsche writes small, poetic aphorisms. The lack of systematic wholeness of his works reflects the lack of systematic wholeness in the universe. Cosmos, you can write a treatise about; but Chaos, you can only have this idea about, that idea about, try this on, and see how this works. Everything is tentative; everything is provisional... In other words, Knowledge is done. What do we do in the absence of knowledge? We find some way of reconciling ourselves to a completely meaningless world. That's what “The world is in all eternity, Chaos” means. He is the philosopher of Chaos, he is the prophet of Chaos, he speaks on behalf of Chaos.

Nietzsche says maybe we can get a foothold on the world by imagining that everything repeats itself. He calls this the Eternal Recurrence.
Possibly, we can give some meaning and some stability to the choices we make in life, on the basis that “Whatever we choose, we choose forever.” “We will be reconstituted at some infinitely distant time from now, and we will be forced to live the same life.” If you choose an inferior life, then you will live in that inferior condition forever–you are stuck in an endless repetition. 

2. A transcript of Plastic Pill's (subscriber only) video "Deleuze on Nietzsche: Video Supplement" 

[Nietzsche’s character] Zarathustra plays dice with the gods. The dice throw is seen as an analogy for Deleuze, as the affirmation of becoming. So you see what number comes up, and this is immediately anti-Hegelian, because it includes pure chance and the affirmation of pure chance.

The whole point of pure difference is that there are not really superiors and lessers.  Because if you're if you take an affirmative view, if you affirm everything, if you roll the dice and you affirm all becoming, then you can't you can't put yourself in a position outside of difference in order to judge it. You don't get to be the judge; you don't get to be the moralizer; you don't get to be the arbiter. That's not what philosophy is.

The eternal return is fantastic in Deleuze’s interpretation. People do not understand it. Like in the movie True Detective, “time is a flat circle and everything comes back”–this is so misunderstood.  The eternal return is not just a thought experiment first of all, and it's not that the same state of affairs keeps coming back. 

Do you know the snake eating its own tail, the ouroboros? That's the symbol of this eternal return. But it's not that you keep living the same life over and over again, it's not the things that return. Everything is a river, and the river's never the same. You can't have the same river more than once. Nietzsche says this actually twice in Zarathustra. He says “imagine willing the same thing over and over again.” The thing that is willed is Return. Not the state of affairs returning, but the Return itself–the dice roll. So the Eternal Return is just to continually affirm returning–that the dice roll happens over and over… The thing that is most individual about processes, is the Eternal Return of that process. So it's not just that thought experiment in Zarathustra:

And there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh must return to you all in the same succession and sequence. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again and you with it, speck of dust. Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you experienced a tremendous moment when you have answered him “You are a god, and never have i heard anything more divine.”

So the point of this is not that the state of affairs itself repeats, but that the Return repeats. In Deleuze’s interpretation, there’s a double selection: first there's the selection of willing, when the demon asks “do you want this again?” If you will the Return, then only that which becomes is the thing that can return.  “There will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh must return to you.” So do you affirm existence? Every roll of the dice that has ever happened. Or do you say, “no, I can't live this life anymore.” 

Because if you want it to end, the denial, you can have that. You have that with your Christianity–“a little poison now and then makes for pleasant dreams.” You have that with your philosophy–saying “no I know what ‘the Right’ is, and that ‘Right’ will stop changing.” You can see this even in like leftist politics “If we only got there.” But there is no ‘there’. If you think there's a purposive end, then you're not living the eternal return. The eternal return is the affirmation of the return of everything, always–even the stuff that's painful. Nietzsche says twice in Zarathustra, it's not the same state of affairs that returns. Becoming is eternal. Becoming–not history. Becoming is the part that's eternal, not the history, not the states of events. You will the returning of becoming–temporality without ends in it. 

The negation destroys the returning. It represents the returning as having been destroyed, because there's a finishing point–we can be done with it. “If we only had this!” 

The over man in nature the superman is the one who just says “Yes, everything will return; I am that! I am that returning.” 

So for Deleuze, the will to power is not wanting, coveting, or seeking power, but only creating–and creation has to always happen over and over again. You can't defend the vanished concept, not even your own concept, not even your self conception. 

“To cast the dice is to remove from thought the questions of truth and falsity.” 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Osho on Jesus

Abridged from:

"THE FIRST THING TO BE UNDERSTOOD about a man like Jesus is that whatsoever the church that is bound to grow around such a man says about him, it is bound to be wrong. What the Christian church says about Christ cannot be true. In fact the Christian priest does not represent Christ at all. He is the same old rabbi in new garments, the same old rabbi who was responsible for Jesus murder...

"Jesus is a rebel, just as Buddha is or Lao Tzu is. When the church starts establishing itself it starts destroying the rebelliousness of Jesus, Buddha, because rebellion cannot go with an establishment. It starts imposing its own ideas — once Jesus is gone it is very easy to impose your own ideas. It starts selecting what to keep in the Bible and what not to keep. Many things have been dropped, many things have not been included in it. 


"I don’t know Jesus through Christian theology; I know him directly. And my knowing is that he cannot talk in terms of sacrifice — first thing, the very first. A man like Jesus does not talk in terms of sacrifice; it is celebration, not sacrifice. He is going to meet his God dancing, singing. It is not sacrifice; he is not a martyr. The Christian church tries to make him the greatest martyr, the greatest man who has sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world from the sins of man. In the first place it is not sacrifice — sacrifice looks business-like — it is celebration! Jesus is celebrating his life and his death.

"Secondly: nobody can solve the problems of others, nobody can be the salvation of the world. And you can see it: the world is still the same. Twenty centuries have passed and Christian priests go on talking nonsense, that he sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. But where is the salvation of the world? Either he failed, he could not manage… that they cannot accept, that he failed. Then what happened? The world seems to be exactly the same — nothing has changed! Humanity remains in the same misery. But Jesus cannot have said, I have come for the salvation of the world.


"There is no need for ANY salvation. If there is any need you feel, it can’t be done by anybody else except you yourself. You are not living in sin; you are living in nature — but if nature is condemned you start feeling guilty. And that is the trade-secret of the priests: to make you feel guilty.

"I don’t think Jesus said that his sacrifice on the cross was for the salvation of the world from the sins of man. Priests must have imposed their ideas on Jesus. The New Testament was written centuries afterwards, and then for centuries it was edited, changed, and the words that Jesus spoke were in a language which is no more alive — Aramaic. It was not even Hebrew — a dialect of Hebrew, but different in many ways.

"When Jesus’ words were translated — first into Latin — a great change happened: they lost their original quality, the flavor. They lost something very essential: their soul. And when from Latin they were translated into English, something was again lost. For example, a few words you can meditate over: ‘Repentance’ is one of the key words because Jesus uses it again and again, says to his disciples: Repent! Repent ye, because the Day of Judgment is very close. He repeats it so many times that it must have been of tremendous value to him. But what does it mean — ‘repent’? Ask the Christian priest; he will say, “This is a simple word; everybody knows what it means: repent for your sins, repent for your guilt, repent for all that you have done.” And the priest can be helpful; he can help you in the ways of repentance. But the word ‘repent’ has nothing to do with repentance.

"Jesus’ word for repent simply means ‘return’; it does not mean repentance at all. ‘Turn in’ it means, ‘return to the source’, it means, ‘return to your own being’. That’s what meditation is all about: returning to the source, returning to the center of the cyclone, returning to your very being.

"Now you can see the difference. When you use the English word ‘repent’ it has something very ugly about it: sin, guilt, the priest, confession; this is the climate of the English word ‘repent’. But the Aramaic word simply means return to the source, return! Return, don’t waste time. And that’s how it is with almost all key words.

"It is almost impossible to understand Jesus through the priests. The only pure way, the only possible way, is to go in, return inside. There you will meet Christ-consciousness. The only way to understand Christ is to become a Christ. Never be a Christian — be a Christ! Never be a Buddhist — be a Buddha! Never be a Hindu — be a Krishna! Beware of the priests. They are the people who crucified Jesus — how can they interpret Jesus? If you want to be a Krishna, Christ or Buddha, then you need not go into the scriptures and you need not ask the scholars: you will have to ask the mystics how to go in."

Abridged from: